4 Areas of the Park
Its strategic location between the Mississippi and the Saint Lawrence Rivers made “LaBaye” a logical place for a trader to settle. By the 1720’s bands of voyageur canoes set out each spring from Quebec, the capital of New France, bound for the Northwest with a cargo of French trade goods. Iron pots, axe heads, knives, needles, mirrors, and other metal goods were popular with the woodland tribes who had only used wooden and bone implements. Flintlock muskets, gunpowder, and shot helped to hunt animals for food, while Indians snared the fur bearing animals whose pelts made fine felt hats back in France. A trader at LaBaye could exchange last year’s cargo of metal, guns, cloth fabric, and blankets for a boatload of fine furs which he would take to the “rendezvous” at Mackinac. There in early summer traders from the great Lakes would meet the Montreal brigades who would take their furs back to Quebec in exchange for another winter’s worth of trade goods. The French fur traders were reliant on the native groups for food, a trade route, hunting grounds, pelts, and companionship. Out of this companionship grew the Meétis culture, a mingling of French fur traders and the Indian culture.
After the War of 1812, Americans began to realize the need to defend and settle their new territory. This new country now stretched halfway across the continent, far from the settled seacoast into lands inhabited by Indian tribes and French settlers, and still claimed by Britain. As Americans pushed westward to take over the fur trade, the United States government built a chain of forts in the western Great Lakes to protect and defend the great river routes into the interior. By 1816 a log stockade above the western bank of Green Bay established Fort Howard as a crucial link in the western chain. Fort Howard connected eastern forts like Fort Niagara (New York) and Fort Detroit (Michigan) with frontier outposts like Fort Winnebago (Portage, Wisconsin), Fort Crawford on the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and Fort Snelling at Saint Paul, Minnesota. Each protected a strategic point along the waterways connecting the interior with the settled east. In 1820, the troops moved across the river and formed Camp Smith in what is now Heritage Hill State Historical Park. This area became the first American settlement west of Lake Michigan.
From 1850 to the end of the century, numerous small communities were expanding in Wisconsin due to the influx of immigrants. Our Growing Community was depicts some of the trades that were found in Green Bay during the last half of the 19th century. Take a closer look at the past as you stroll through town.
Ethnic Agricultural Area
Farmers from the Brabant province of Belgium began immigrating to Northeastern Wisconsin around 1853, lured by Antwerp advertisements of farmland at $1.25 an acre and the promise of a French speaking population. These groups built sturdy houses, cultivated the land, and adjusted to life in America. With the exception of the native cultures all who came to this country were immigrants in some fashion and can trace their roots back to these brave souls.